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Williams column: From pizza to paddling, I will never forget Mrs. Misenheimer

By Mack Williams
For the Salisbury Post
My favorite teacher at Granite Quarry School will always be my sixth-grade teacher, of the 1963-64 school term, Mrs. Roselyn Misenheimer. Being our youngest and prettiest teacher, the boys had a crush on her. There are many pretty young teachers today, but back then, we had only one: Mrs. Misenheimer. She reminded me somewhat of Jaqueline Kennedy.
In studying geography, Mrs. Misenheimer added culinary culture to our education. While studying Italy, she found out that most of us had never eaten pizza (you must remember that where we lived was a more rural area 48-49 years ago), so she made pizza and brought it for us to try. Her pizza was my first!
That first, simple taste seems more special in my mind than all of the super-deluxe pizza combinations which came later, especially the one at the no-longer extant Rathskeller Restaurant one night in Boone, while at Appalachian State University. Its size was small, but shortcomings of width were more than made up for by its depth.
Its toppings included most of the meats known to man, most of the cheeses, many of the garden’s vegetables, and a couple varieties of fungi (mushrooms). One meat had never been attempted by me — anchovies. These did not suit my taste, so as I ate, I also initiated a gathering of those spiny little fish next to my pizza, resulting in a nice-sized “school” on that shadowy Rathskeller table.
Classically speaking, Mrs. Misenheimer’s simply prepared pizza was like the purity of the old Roman Republic, whereas that decadent monstrosity, consumed in the Rathskeller’s semi-darkness, resembled the latter, depraved excesses of the Empire, the likes of which probably could have been found in the kitchen of Caligula!
When studying the city of Brussels, Mrs. Misenheimer asked if we had eaten its famous, so-named “sprouts,” receiving a unanimous negative reply. True to form, she prepared Brussels sprouts and brought them for us. The smell seemed of cooked cabbage, only more concentrated, coming from what resembled little, round “cabbage crystals.”
I remember Mrs. Misenheimer fondly, despite her giving me my only school paddling. It was greatly deserved for my acting up (“up” back then, instead of “out”) for an elderly female substitute. After my paddling, another boy received his (several had misbehaved for that elderly, sweet lady). The paddle broke on him, but Mrs. Misenheimer had a back-up and continued. I was glad that I had been paddled with older, wearier wood, in its last, creaking days (as a unit), instead of fresher, sturdier lumber, more unyielding against a “softer” surface.
Mrs. Misenheimer took us to the Chapel Hill Planetarium and the Town Creek Indian Mound (safely then, without incident, unlike my recent return). For our end-of-class picnic, we went to Granite Lake, with its peaceful water, tall trees, and “beach” (probably consisting of trucked-in, Yadkin River sand). Although we didn’t go in swimming, one of the girls (of whom I snapped a picture) did “strike a pose” near the diving board in her shorts.
I remember a conversation with Mrs. Misenheimer some years later. A former student of hers had passed away in that beautiful setting of Granite Lake, with its placid reflections, columnal trees and sand. She wondered aloud if there could have been anything which she could have additionally said to him, while her student, that would have altered his future course. Such is the character of the truly good! They are never satisfied with their best, that best being usually superior to the best efforts of the rest of us! Better to be introspective like them, unlike those who are complacently self-assured, whose daily dealings with others offer a study in arrogance!
I lately saw a television chef discussing his Brussels sprouts recipes. He suggested the accompaniment of a variety of buttery sauces. Whenever I eat Brussels sprouts, with or without sauce, I sometimes find myself accompanying them with something else: memories of Mrs. Misenheimer and my days in her sixth-grade class at Granite Quarry School.

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